Idea Cellular MD to step down before term

Idea Cellular MD to step down before term

Bangalore: Idea Cellular, the country’s No. 6 mobile phone operator, late on Monday said its managing director would step down from his post ahead of his scheduled retirement, declining to provide further detail.

Sanjeev Aga will retire effective 1 April 2011, but will continue as director on the company’s board, Idea said in a statement to the stock exchange.

Idea is part of the Aditya Birla Group, which has interests ranging from cement to retail and is led by Kumar Mangalam Birla, listed by Forbes as India’s 10th richest man with a net worth of $8.5 billion.

Aga’s departure comes at a time of turmoil in the telecom sector. The company might be on the hook to pay more for wireless radio spectrum it already holds, after a government auditor named it among nine firms that were allotted airwaves beyond the upper limit without having to pay any upfront charges.

The Indian telecom industry has also been hit by one of the biggest corruption scandals this year, as a government auditor found that telecoms licenses might have been sold too cheaply and, in some case, to ineligible firms, possibly costing the state $39 billion in lost revenue.

Under Aga’s leadership, Idea raised about $540 million in an initial public offering in 2007, expanded 2G mobile operations to all of India, and won in an auction of 3G wireless spectrum in 11 of India’s 22 zones.

Idea’s director of operations in charge of telecom zones in southern and western India, Himanshu Kapania, will replace Aga, the company said.